As I write this in early February my mind is wandering to warmer days and open water and, specifically, walleye fishing. My current thought regarding walleye fishing is that right now may just be the best walleye fishing period of my entire fishing career; a career that spans well over five decades!
First, walleye populations across the “walleye belt” seem to be in very good shape. That assessment comes from my personal experience and anecdotal reports from others. For example, last summer my partners and I experienced some of the best bites for quality fish that I have been a part of and those bites happened multiple times and in multiple lakes. Just to mention a few, we were on Kabetogama Lake last fall and caught numbers of fish of all sizes, with a bunch of “overs” (fish over 20 inches in length) mixed in that catch. Plus, a bunch of fishing trips last spring and again last fall in my home area of Alexandria, MN produced really good walleye catches coming from several different lakes.
Those are just a couple of examples of good fishing from my personal fishing. In conversations with others, I also heard of great bites from several of the Great Lakes fisheries. Plus, the reservoir systems in the Dakotas also gave up lots of fish and lots of big fish according to many other anglers I visited with.
Not only is walleye fishing great in lots of waters, but the equipment we use to catch those fish has improved a great deal too. Fishing lines, lures, and rods/reels are all better than they were just a few years ago, with more and more products being created as “walleye specific” too. Plus, this equipment is often available at very good price points as well. For example, I have been using several rods in the Lew’s Speed Stick lineup the past few seasons with actions designed with various walleye fishing techniques in mind. Not only are these rods light and sensitive and do a great job, but most are available for under one hundred dollars too!
Good fishing with good equipment is an accurate descriptor of walleye fishing’s current state. Additionally, the sonar technologies we use are so much better too. Last year, for example, we used ActiveTarget forward facing sonar. For the first time in my boat, my partners and I were able to see fish in real time holding out away from the boat and then cast to them. This process was so impressive to me that I believe forward facing sonar is the biggest “game changer” in walleye fishing that I can remember! And, to make things even better, an updated version called ActiveTarget 2 was just released and promises to help us see fish around the boat even better!
Great walleye fishing happened across the Midwest last year and I believe this trend will continue. More fish, great equipment, and better technologies have this angler believing, in fact, that these truly are walleye fishing’s “good old” days!
As always, enjoy your time on the water and remember to include a youngster in your next outdoors adventure!
Mike Frisch hosts the popular Fishing the Midwest TV series. Visit Fishing the Midwest at www.fishingthemidwest.com.